Budapest :The first buses carrying migrants who have been stranded in the Hungarian capital set off for Austria and Germany early today after they agreed to receive thousands of refugees desperate to start new lives in Western Europe.
With tensions growing across the European Union about how to handle the escalating crisis on its borders, buses laid on by the Hungarian authorities left the Keleti train station carrying people who have been stuck for days in makeshift refugee camps.
Minutes earlier, the first vehicles began to pick up members of a crowd of some 1,200 people who set off on foot for the Austrian border some 175 kilometres (110 miles) away earlier in the day, Hungary’s official MTI agency reported.
The mass march came as the father of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, whose drowning has shocked people around the world and underlined the human cost of Europe’s escalating refugee crisis, buried his family in their war-torn hometown of Kobane.
Germany urged an end to “recriminations” as Britain said it would take in thousands more Syrian refugees—but only directly from camps, not those already in overstretched Hungary, Greece and Italy, who are demanding their EU partners do more to help.
Hungary has become the newest flashpoint as thousands of migrants try to get to Western Europe, particularly Germany, which has said it will no longer deport Syrian refugees and will take in 800,000 people this year.
Yesterday evening, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief-of-staff Janos Lazar said Budapest would lay on around 100 buses to take migrants to the Austrian border if they wanted, saying: “The top priority is that Hungary’s transport should not be crippled.”
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann subsequently announced that Vienna and Berlin had agreed to receive the migrants due to arrive at the Hungarian border in the coming hours.
He told Austria’s APA agency that Orban had been informed “in consultation” with Merkel of the decision motivated by “the current emergency at the Hungarian border”.
Earlier, a crowd of migrants estimated by police at 1,200 including people in wheelchairs and on crutches—set off from Budapest, some flashing victory signs as they walked along the motorway while others carried pictures of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.